It’s Spooky Season! Are you looking for a scary book? Try one of these to put you in the Halloween spirit.
It’s Spooky Season! Are you looking for a scary book? Try one of these to put you in the Halloween spirit.
Dr. Sam Statler, a newlywed psychologist, is missing. He and his wife, Annie, recently moved from NYC to his small upstate New York hometown. The move serves two purposes-a fresh start for the couple and to be close to Sam’s ailing mother. Sam’s private practice is located in a charming old building with the perfect landlord. He spends his days listening to the problems of his mostly female clientele and his free time celebrating the small milestones in his marriage. This quiet life suits Sam, which is why Annie can’t believe he would have willingly disappeared. However, the search for her husband reveals that Sam may not be everything she believed him to be.
To be honest, it’s best to go into this book knowing as little as possible about it. Know that it is a strange and twisty story; a first rate psychological thriller. Sam has a reputation in his hometown. His sessions are being listened in on. And who is that French woman? Is Sam really missing or did he disappear? Readers will have questions and the author is stingy with the answers until the stunning truth is revealed. I listened to the audiobook version and at first I struggled with the narrator, but by the end I could not believe how perfect the narration was.
Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Malloy comes out October 13th. Add it to your TBR list and place a hold today
Do you like to read the book before you watch the film or television adaptation? Or are you someone who doesn’t mind seeing the screen version and then reading the book? Or, perhaps you are one of those people who only does one or the other. I must admit, there have been times that I chose not to read a book because the movie was not that interesting to me (looking at you Divergent series).
We’ve got some great television and film adaptations to look forward to, and below are a few of my top picks for books you should read before their adaptations hit your screen.
A brand new HBO series just launched based on this awesome book by Matt Ruff. I really enjoyed the book, a smart mash-up of historical fiction, Lovecraftian horror, and sci-fi fantasy elements. Readers follow a series of of inter-connected stories about an extended African American family in the 1950s, mostly taking place in Chicago, and their dangerous encounters with the supernatural (sorcerers, inter-dimensional portals, a haunted house) and the terrible, rampant racism they constantly faced during the Jim Crow era.
The film adaptation of this book is slated to hit Netflix September 16th so you have plenty of time to pick up this book (which is what I plan to do as I haven’t read it yet!). Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s, including a husband and wife team of serials killers and a disturbed war veteran. The book, Pollock’s first novel, was described as “violence-soaked” from it’s first pages by The New York Times Book Review, so be prepared for a dark and disturbing read.
This newly published horror thriller has already been put into development by Hulu according to recent news. The drama series will be based on Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s bestselling novel, and produced by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos’ Milojo Productions and ABC Signature. Set in 1950s Mexico, Mexican Gothic follows glamorous and young socialite Noemí from her home in Mexico City to the dismal grounds of High Place, a gloomy English manor styled estate in the Mexican countryside. She is there to check in on her newlywed cousin after receiving a frantic letter begging for someone to save her. What will she discover about this odd family and strange house?
Are there any big or small screen adaptations that you are really excited about this year? Share in the comments!
Regular readers will remember that I have already shared all of my 5-star YA reads of 2020. It’s now time to start sharing some of my 4-star recommendations.
American Panda by Gloria Chao. Seventeen year old Mei is a pre-med at MIT. Her whole life is already mapped out-become a doctor, marry a parents-approved, successful, Taiwanese guy with an Ivy League degree, and have babies. It’s the least she can do for her parents who have sacrificed everything for her and who have already been betrayed by her older brother. There are a couple of problems with this plan. She is a germaphobe. She loves to dance. Darren is not Taiwanese. This is a funny and heartfelt coming of age story about a young woman stuck between two cultures. It’s also about first love and family secrets and following your passions, all things teens of any ethnicity can relate to. A solid 4-star read.
All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban. What happens when the scholarship dinner you’ve been invited to turns out to be a trap? This debut thriller reads like an Agatha Christie novel. The class valedictorian, the popular girl, the music geek, the stoner, the loner, and the star athlete all think they are being honored with a scholarship. Instead, they are locked in a room with a bomb, a syringe of poison, and a note that tells them to pick a person to die or they all die. The clock is ticking. This is an edge of your seat read that literally takes place over the course of an hour. Will they panic? Escape? Kill someone? This is a wild ride from a new voice in YA thrillers.
One of Us is Next by Karen McManus. Speaking of thrillers…If you aren’t reading Karen McManus, go do it now. This is the sequel to her hit One of Us is Lying. It’s been a year since the incidents at Bayview High and there is a new game circulating- Truth or Dare and this version is dark and dangerous. This is another strong addition to the YA thriller genre. I am definitely a fan of the author and look forward to more great reads by her.
Deadly Little Secrets by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Here’s another thriller and a sequel. I am a huge fan of Jennifer Lynn Barnes and will read anything she writes. This one picks up where Little White Lies leaves off. If you like southern charm and wicked family secrets and secret societies, you really need to read the Debutantes series. What I love about all of Barnes’ books is that there is plenty of humor to cut through the tension of her rather dark tales.
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black. This one is actually the final book in the Folk of the Air trilogy. You’ll want to start with The Cruel Prince, followed by The Wicked King. I always think I do not enjoy stories about the fae, and yet, any time I decide to read one, I like it, so I guess I am wrong about myself! Holly Black knows her stuff. She is the queen of the fairy tale and she returns to her fairy roots with this brutal and twisty trilogy. It’s full of magic and betrayal and the ending is fantastic. Highly recommend.
Paul Adams hasn’t been back to his childhood village in twenty-five years. He left everything, including the horrible crime committed by his classmate Charlie Crabtree, behind. It’s his mother’s failing health that has brought him reluctantly back home. There is no joyful homecoming for Paul. His mother is distraught, something horrible is in his childhood home, someone is following him, and he has caught the attention of Detective Amanda Beck. Detective Beck is investigating a crime that is eerily similar to one that happened twenty-five years ago. Is it a strange coincidence that Paul is suddenly back in town? Is Charlie Crabtree back? What did happen to Charlie?
This new offering from the author of The Whisper Man, is a haunting psychological thriller with strong Stand By Me vibes. The story alternates between the past and Paul’s recollection of the crime and the present as Paul struggles to reconcile his memories with what is happening in this new case. The tension builds slowly as the the strange truth behind both cases is slowly and deliberately revealed. The skillful narration of Hannah Arterton (Safe, The Five on Netflix) and John Heffernan (Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Collateral) bring the story to life and draw the listener in.
The Shadows is a great pick for readers and listeners who enjoyed The Chalk Man and other titles by C.J. Tudor and the Family Upstairs and other titles by Lisa Jewell.
Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan audio for an advance reader/listener copy for review.
A-There is just no winning during a pandemic. Just when I was figuring out ways to manage my anxiety over being stuck at home, things are once again changing. So, as businesses reopen and more people head back to work, a whole new batch of worries have cropped up. Are we moving too fast? Do I remember how to be around people? Who am I kidding, I was never great at peopling. I am craving routine and structure (and salty snacks, but no way am I going to a store anytime soon), but can we keep the comfy quarantine clothes? Staff will soon be heading back to the library and I am pretty excited about that, but what is our new normal going to look like? Gah! So many questions. So many unknowns. We’ll get through this together.
B-Books, babies, and beach therapy.
I haven’t been doing to much reading with my eyes, but I have been bingeing audiobooks like crazy. I have revisited old favorites-Harry Potter, Skulduggery Pleasant, Bloody Jack-all available in Overdrive and Hoopla. All my comfort books have comforted me enough to be ready to look for new content. This week I fired up the ereader and took a look at some of my digital advance reader copies of upcoming books. Here are the two I decided to start reading:
Look for The Invisible Girl in October and The End of Her in July.
One of my favorite ways to relax is to get what I like to call beach therapy. It’s finally warming up enough to sit on some sun-baked sand and sift through the rocks looking for treasures. One of my favorite spots is close to the library-Bradstreet Landing in Rocky River. Today I treated myself to a trip to the drive through of one of my favorite local coffee shops and headed to the beach. Look at the fuzzy baby geese!
Wrapping up with this week’s C is RiverCon (yeah, it’s a stretch, but I am really excited about this event and want to keep talking about it)! RiverCon has an offical logo and it is FANTASTIC! I am thrilled to be able to share it with you today and remind you to register here for your RiverCon kit. Registration opens this Saturday! Each kit will have a comic craft, reading recommedations, Hoopla and Overdrive swag, a RiverCon magnet, and more.
Hang in there everyone!
Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time by Gary Saul Morson
I‘ve been reading two books by a literary critic that I like a lot named Gary Saul Morson. He wrote a great book about Anna Karenina called Anna Karenina in Our Time: Seeing More Wisely, so I was curious to learn about his other work. One book, Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time, is about how certain novelists, like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, create stories that convey a sense of time as open, even if the novelist knows what is going to happen. It also talks about how novelists represent free will in their characters, and fight against an interpretation of the world as deterministic. The second book, Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics, co-authored with Caryl Emerson, is about the work of a Russian literary critic and philosopher named Mikhail Bakhtin, who came up with some very innovative and exciting ways of thinking about the novel as a genre. Morson is a wonderful, lucid, and deep thinker, and I’m enjoying these books very much. Andrew
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchison
Sixteen-year-old Elena is the product of a virgin birth (it’s a real thing with a scientific explanation). She also hears voices and can perform miracles (there is no scientific explanation for this). Elena is just trying to navigate normal high school crushes and family drama, and she really doesn’t have time to save the world. Also, she’s not really sure she should be saving it. This is a truly bizarre and thought-provoking novel for fans of A.S. Kind and Libba Bray’s Going Bovine. Megan
This book is really all about the importance of being a good role model as a parent and letting your child be who she wants to be. The book dives into the history of the Disney princess culture and how it has evolved over the years and has affected our culture, specifically our young daughters. I found the book to be somewhat lacking in concrete insight for navigating the logistics of fostering my child’s authentic self while she is very drawn to the imagery and excitement of princess culture. Beth
I Hate Fairyland by Scottie Young
Do you love/hate fairy tales? Hero journeys? Landscapes made of candy? Have you ever wondered what would happen if Dorothy hadn’t found her way back to Kansas? Then you will enjoy this graphic novel. I hate Fairyland (Volume 1) follows the story of Gert, a green haired, ax wielding, foul mouthed, middle aged 6 year old (In Fairyland, time goes by but you don’t age). Gert hasn’t really taken the conventional path to finding her way back home and after a few decades of failed riddles and violent vendettas she may have worn out her welcome. A hilarious, graphic-graphic novel. Greg
March. Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
This autobiographical graphic novel relates the early life of Senator John Lewis from his rural upbringing on an Alabama farm through his early involvement in the Nashville Civil Rights Movement. March does a very nice job of providing the larger context of the movement and what is happening outside of Nashville and Lewis’s immediate world. However, the authors manage to keep the story from losing focus of Lewis personal experience and the impact that creates. This is done in part by having the story told from Senator Lewis’ own voice as he provides an impromptu tour of his office on Inauguration Day, just before President Obama is about to be sworn into office for the first time. A fascinating and powerful read. Trent
The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen
When Johanna Langley’s father Sir Hugo suddenly dies, Johanna wants to understand what happened to him during WWII. He was a British bomber pilot who was shot down over German-occupied Tuscany near the town of San Salvatore. Local resident Sofia Bartoli tended to his needs at severe risk to herself, family and village. When Johanna visits San Salvatore 30 years later, no one remembers her father or wants to talk about Sophia. A treat for fans of historical fiction. Emma
Evicted by Matthew Desmond
This book has been on my radar for several years, and being the chosen book for One Community Reads, I finally dove into it, and I am so very happy I did. This is a grim read but a necessary read. Author, Matthew Desmond does an excellent job of engaging the reader in a piece of non fiction. He introduces the reader to eight families in Milwaukee living in poverty and struggling with eviction. Readers learn about the business and culture of evictions, while getting a glimpse of what it’s like to live in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee. Many residents are spending more than half of their meager income on housing. For most, what money is left after paying rent simply isn’t enough to get by, hence, starts a downward spiral leading to evictions. The fates of the eight families in this book are in the hands of two landlords. I couldn’t help but feel that there is blood on the hands of everyone. Desmond spent years living in these neighborhoods, painstakingly taking notes and recording events. I highly recommend this book to everyone. Mary
Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith
Having several friends and family members who suffer from anxiety, I wanted to read a book to help me understand and empathize with them. Monkey Mind, so far, has done the trick. It is an extremely eye-opening memoir about the onset and treatment of Daniel Smith’s anxiety disorder. He intersperses stories about his own life with research and writings about anxiety from scientists and philosophers like Kirkegaard and Freud. When the audiobook starts to feel overwhelming (because Daniel Smith’s rehearsals of his absurd, painful, and self-destructive thought patterns can be just that), I remind myself that this is how it is to live with anxiety, and that I am one of the lucky ones who can turn off the audiobook and walk away. The book is not 100% heavy and dramatic, though — Daniel Smith’s dry humor about the situations he finds himself in is one of the strengths of the book. Trigger warning: the author does not shy away from sharing a story about how he was raped at 16, and while he documents what happened (in my opinion) tactfully, it is still distressing. Lindsey
Where I Lost Her by T. Greenwood
Eight years after many failed fertility treatments and a tragic adoption, Tess is still grieving and bitter as she visits her childhood friend in her hometown in rural Vermont. Torn between her great love for her best friend’s two daughters and her jealousy of the life they lead, as well as the growing rift in her marriage, Tess’ visit is fraught with emotion. While driving home from a late night liquor store run, Tess sees a small, wounded half-naked little girl in her headlights on the dark country road. When she stops to help, the girls disappears into the woods. As Tess calls together the community to search for her, she finally finds a sense of purpose until those around her begin to suspect she was drunk, broken-hearted and imagined the whole thing. This book is a great look into grief, relationships, healing and what matters in life. Sara
Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory
In the 1970s, the Amazing Telemachus family toured the U.S. as psychic performers, led by patriarch/con-man Teddy and the genuinely talented Maureen. Debunked on national television, they lost their notoriety. Twenty years later, they’re all struggling with real world problems, albeit with a psychic dimension. Irene, a human lie detector test, can’t maintain a relationship and has brought her son Matty home to live with her father. Raconteur Frankie, who practices telekinesis, can’t get his business off the ground and is in hock to a local mobster. Buddy, the youngest, sees the future, and is steadily working to prevent it, even if it means building holes in the backyard. Told in alternating chapters from each character’s point of view, this quirky tale of family, mobsters, the CIA and first love, is a hoot – funny, crazy and tender. I listened to it on audiobook and it was a treat! Dori
Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. –Vera Nazarian
10. NUMMER ZEHN THE DRY– Jane Harper
9. NUMÉRO NEUF I LET YOU GO– Clare Mackintosh
8. NUMERO OCHO THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET– Becky Chambers
6. NUMER SZEŚĆ I FOUND YOU– Lisa Jewell
5. NUMERO CINQUE TWO IF BY SEA– Jacqueline Mitchard
4. ÀIREAMH CEITHIR THE LATE SHOW– Michael Connelly
3. NUMBER ਤੀਹ HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS– Biance Marais
2. NUMMER TO THE CHILD FINDER– Rene Denfeld
1. INOMBOLO YOKUQALA THE KIND WORTH KILLING– Peter Swanson
We each selected a book that could be described as suspense (lots of action in a short period of time and appeals to reader’s sense of unease) or as a thriller (a specific, often exotic, world that emphasize defeating the villain.) And then we discussed those books we picked! Ready? ‘Cause here we go:
Beth: Flynn Berry’s debut novel Under the Harrow is a fast paced thriller packed with unpredictable turns. The protagonist, Nora, takes a routine trip to the country to visit her sister, but upon arrival discovers her sister has been brutally murdered. The rest of the book uncovers secrets from the past as a grief stricken Nora tries to solve her sister’s murder.
Carol: In She’s Not There by Joy Fielding, Caroline Shipley’s life crumbles when her two-year-old daughter, Samantha is kidnapped on their family vacation in Mexico. Caroline’s marriage ends, her relationship with her older daughter suffers, and Caroline is vilified by the press for the perceived parental negligence that led to the kidnapping. Now, fifteen years later, Caroline gets a call from a young woman who says she thinks she is Samantha—and things tailspin once again. Though at times an emotional read, this novel psychological suspense is relatively free of the graphic violence often associated with suspense/thrillers.
Emma: In Darkness by Karen Robards, ornithologist Dr. Gina Sullivan is on a research expedition with other scientists on the island of Attu, Alaska. Gina is out on a lake in severe winter weather when she witnesses a plane crash. There is one survivor, James MacArthur Callahan (Cal). Gina rescues him, but danger sets in immediately. Together they battle the environment and countless enemies who are after Cal. I feel the cover of the book is a little misleading. This is not a light romance but an interesting serious thriller.
Sara: I read the book The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley. This is a story of two cousins, Arden and Rory, who have been like sisters their whole lives. They end up as roommates at a college neither girl wanted to attend because of the financial mistakes of their parents who own a restaurant together. There is a terrible fire in their dorm, both girls are critically injured and comatose, and one boy is dead. As police investigate the blaze, they begin to suspect that Arden started the fire. Her mother Natalie is sure of her innocence, and digs for details of her daughter’s life to find the truth. In doing this she finds she did not really know her daughter or niece at all, and that the girls knew more about the family secrets than they had ever let on. Told in the voices of Arden, Rory and Natalie this book is hard to put down and full of surprises til the very end.
Dori: In Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, a private plane unexpectedly crashes off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard shortly into the flight and there are only two survivors: a down on his luck painter, invited at the last minute, and the small son of the wealthy family who had hired the plane. What happened? As the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI investigate the crash, we learn about the passengers and their backgrounds, trying to discover who caused the crash. There’s the head of a FOX TV-like media conglomerate, a man about to get arrested for selling arms to terrorists, an Israeli bodyguard and the painter, whose last paintings depict a series of disasters, including a plane crash. Hawley, a television writer and producer, keeps us turning the pages and delivers a completely unexpected outcome.
Steve: Velocity by Dean Koontz is a horrific thriller that finds small town bartender Billy Wiles drawn into a nightmare after finding a note under his windshield wiper offering an unwinnable 6 hour ultimatum. If he doesn’t go to the police, a blond schoolteacher will be killed, and if he does go to the police an elderly charity worker will die. Billy and his friend, who happens to be the sheriff, play it off as a sick joke, but he next day a blond school teacher is found dead. Things get exceedingly worse for Billy.
Megan: The Trespasser by Tana French is the sixth installment in the Dublin Murder Squad series. Detectives Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran are the newest members of the squad and therefore are usually assigned the cut and dry cases. This seems to be the situation when they are handed a murder case that appears to be a simple lover’s quarrel turned deadly. However, as the pair digs into the details they become increasingly convinced that this case is just a little too simple. Conway begins to doubt her instincts as well as her partner’s intentions as the evidence piles up to indicate someone on her own squad is out to get her. Is she being paranoid or is there more to this case than meets the eye? This is another brilliant addition to the series. The psychological tension and suspense kept me up late into the wee hours. This book doesn’t release until October, so if you aren’t familiar with the Dublin Murder Squad now is the time to get started!
Lauren: Lydia Millet’s Sweet Lamb of Heaven finds Anna hiding out in a motel in Maine with her young daughter, Lena. They have left their home in Alaska and fled from Anna’s husband, an uncaring and increasingly dangerous man who has never shown the slightest interest in his daughter until he aims for a political career and begins his first campaign for office. Then he needs a trophy family and Anna and Lena find themselves on the run. Holed up in the motel with a small group of other guests and keeping constantly vigilant, Anna slowly realizes that she and the other guests may not have come together by chance at all.
Stacey: The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood is what they like to call a “literary thriller” (in the library biz.) As the story begins, a small group of women have been abducted and taken to a remote location in the Australian Outback, had their heads shaved, and dressed in rough cloth to begin their punishment for promiscuity. As the women fight to survive harsh conditions, the tension builds around who’s responsible and when will they reveal their ultimate goal in holding these ladies hostage.
Next time? We’ll all be reading a Beach Reads book (ie something we’d be happy to take to the beach -or the porch!) Find something you’d like to read in the sun, or shade, just because it’s summertime!
My 2015 list this year includes Mystery, Suspense, and Thrillers!
Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer Quinn. Chet the Dog is so famous he has his own website- http://www.chetthedog.com/
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. The “good girl” runs into a bundle of trouble.
Last Words by Michael Koryta. He didn’t know it at the time, but they were the last words he spoke to her.
Little Black Lies by Sandra Block. Black lies are definitely worse than white lies.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. No doubt this will be on many best lists!
The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham. This ferry will take you on a wild ride.
Orient by Christopher Bollen. Strange things are occuring in the town of Orient on Long Island.
The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo. Some parts of this book are “unbearably grizzly”!
One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis. A twisty, psychological thriller debut novel.
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain. Another winner from author Chamberlain.